Stepping into Action

Charlotte Brown

Did you enjoy watching Chris Brown and Columbus Short catch a beat in “Stomp the Yard”? If so you will love stepping and should check out the return of Urbana’s Step Team. Urbana’s first step team started in 2004 but from the lack of interest and coaching it ended in 2006.

Stepping is an art form where your body is used as an instrument to project intricate sounds through beats and rhythm. Step teams are popular and growing on college campuses, especially in sororities and fraternities. These unique routines are passed down through generations of the organizations. Skills of hip hop, tap dance, cheerleading and military style drills are all incorporated into the art of stepping. Step teams are primarily judged on difficulty of routines, originality, and stage presence.

Lois Mensah, a senior, was new to UHS last year. She was born in Gaithersburg, and then moved to Accra, Ghana, for 2 years. She had been stepping prior to moving to Ghana at Gaithersburg High School in Maryland and she wanted to carry it on. She introduced stepping to her school in Ghana, Wesley Girls High School, carrying on her passion. After 2 years in Ghana she moved to Urbana and as a new student she wanted to start a step team.

Mensah and Brandy Aires, a senior, sought out the help of special education teacher Ida Davis, who herself was a college stepper in the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. Davis said “I love stepping, it is exciting, lots of fun, and you exert a lot of energy.” Mensah said, “All you need is rhythm, good structure, be able to stand straight, and broad facial expressions” to make it on the step team. She also said that it is all about your mindset and “you won’t know until you try,” which is also their team motto.

The step team currently has ten members, all girls, however it is a co-ed team. They first performed at the boys JV football game. Mensah said it was nerve wracking and they only had two weeks to create their first routine. They will create new routines for each performance. The step team is to perform at the girls’ basketball games and is hoping to perform at the boys’ basketball games as well.

Mensah and Jasmyn Caffey, a junior, are the team captains and they both hope the team can continue to expand. This winter they will be holding tryouts and are hoping to gain at least ten new steppers. Step teams not only provide values of structure and rhythm in dance but even in everyday life. An experience on the step team will forever be a part of an adventure  throughout life that can be looked back on and appreciate as well as something new outside of a comfort zone.